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The Code War

The FBI Is Using Hacker Tactics To Follow Suspects

Or so the Wall Street Journal reports. It's also hiring people with hacking skills.

The FBI Is Using Hacker Tactics To Follow Suspects

The FBI can activate the microphone on a laptop or Android-running device remotely to listen in on conversations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

We've long known that the government has the ability to track people's movements through their smartphones (Jack Bauer was always "going dark, Chloe," when he had to disappear). But this ability to activate devices remotely is something else. Although a search warrant is needed for law enforcement agencies to confiscate files from a suspect's computer, U.S. crime fighters can now use software, which includes the kind of spyware used by cyber criminals, to gain access to people's emails and personal data.

The revelation comes from just one source, a former U.S. official, who said the agency "hires people who have hacking skills, and they purchase tools that are capable of doing these things." The source added this method is only used when every other attempt to get information has failed. Neither Google nor the FBI would comment on the claims.

Yesterday, the NSA responded to the leak of its XKeyscore surveillance tech, which enables monitoring of almost everyone's online activities. It said all of its surveillance was within the law.

[Image: Flickr user X Ray Delta One]